Marrakech Food Trail
Just do this – don’t ask questions, it’s Amazing, Go and Feast on the Experience of My Marrakech Food Trail…
Your First day in Marrakech Morocco – around 16:30 leave your Riad and head down to Jamaa al-Fnaa, part of the Medina which is in the center of Marrakech and the heartbeat of the City. There are thousands of people milling around watching the mired of performances and Experiences. You will see the colorful water sellers, bird handlers, snake charmers, and musicians, drummers, gambling games, games of chance & henna artists. There are also all the typical small street food vendors selling roasted garbanzo beans, nuts or corn. Including fresh made potato chips, fresh squeezed pomegranate juice or mixed fruit. But make your way past those (well do get some garbanzo beans for the walk – only 2dm). Note if you take a photo of the birds, snakes, monkeys or musicians be sure to tip them – 5dm will usually stop their pressure.
Next you have to navigate past the food stalls, with the grills flaming and the food ingredients on display to entice you in. One of them most distracting products are the Sheep heads. You can’t help but look – however if you do look someone will certainly come up and try to get you to have a seat and eat. But you are on a mission and these stalls are mostly just for the tourists. Just tell them you already ate, are not hungry & “Shukran”, this will usually stop their banter.
You do however want to stop at Stall #3 for Babbouche & the white snails Marrakech. Babbouche is the peppery broth the snails are sautéed in and for those in the know asking for an extra bowl of just the broth to sip on is the way to go. The snails are cooked slowly over low heat using a balanced mixture of over 15 different spices in the broth.
As you pull up a stool at his cart the chef will start to give you a large bowl but just tell him you want a “Petite” bowl along with the extra bowl of broth. Use the toothpicks supplied, poke and pull out the meat, dip back in the broth and enjoy. It is really a delicacy. You will pay TOP dollar in France where they call snails Escargot. Throw the empty shells into the bin in front of you and when finished drink down the rest of the broth. Finally pay the guy 5 Dirham (£0.38), wonderful.
Then right in front of you is Stall #42, walk up to them and ask for a “mix drink” with a shot of Ginger – what you just ordered is fresh squeezed OJ, Pineapple, Pomegranate and Apple juice along with the extra Ginger. This will set you back 10 dm. Get this “to go” and walk to the left past the gift shops, henna artists & handicrafts. You are now on the way to the main event, but there is one more stop. Veer to the left as you enter the labyrinth of shops & stalls of the Medina you will find Olives – easy to find just look for the beautiful stuffed glass jars of Olives. The salesman will tempt you with some samples so pick your favorite – just a small bag; just tell him you only want 5dm worth. My favorite is the Spiced Green ones – with pits.
Ok here we go…. If your timing is right it is now about 17:15 and the sun is just setting. Find Mechoui Alley – it’s right there, not far into the labyrinth of shops and stalls. Literally right around the corner from the Olives. Pick one of the restaurants and get ready for food magic. The whole lamb is roasted in a floor oven or cooked to order – which ever you prefer. Order at grill, pull up a small plastic stool or even better yet go upstairs to the terrace for a wonderful view of the market. If you are lucky the Muslim prayers will start up during your meal and surround you will the chanting from the five mosques that are spaced around the square. A plate of tomato puree with bread comes first. No utensils – just use your right hand. Rip off some bread and scoop. Then comes the Grilled Lamb. So Amazing – sprinkle some of the Cumin & Salt supplied, if none on the table – ask, trust me on this… Pull off some more bread; pull off a chunk of meat and savor the little bit of heaven. If you go with the fresh grilled, ask for the Lamb Chops – this will set you back only 50 Dirham’s – Awesome.
BUT!!! If you go with the Mechoui, which you should, this is really the food heaven. The Lamb is cooked in the floor oven and then stewed in the clay jars on the counter. You will soak up every drop with the bread, trust me – this is the PERFECT Moroccan Experience. You have your Fresh Juice, Spiced Olives on the Side, Tomato puree, Bread and the Best Lamb you have ever eaten. Mechoui it will set you back 70dm for ½ kilo. Note the shops on this street are family-owned; many of them have been in operation for five generations or more. Each shop has three things on the menu: tanjia, mechoui, and roasted sheep head. So there you have it, the best Meal in Marrakech and it only cost you 90 dm or $9.88. “You are Welcome”
PS – when you exit the restaurant, be sure to thank the Chef and wander back out into Jamaa al-Fnaa square – now at night it has transformed into a loud cacophony of sounds, smells and a visual kaleidoscope all designed to overtake your senses. There will be three times the number of people (be aware of pickpockets) but that just adds to the excitement. Enjoy the Experience – you have a full stomach and are gaining stories to tell for a lifetime…